CETA Lab 1

The CETA (Contemporary Environment Technology Arts) project is running full steam ahead in Coonabarabran. The final stage of Lab 1 was completed last week through community consultation sessions, after the initial mapping of the Ukerbarley property by artists Paris Norton, Annie McKinnon and Dylan Goolagong, with the support of National Parks and Wildlife Services rangers.

The first stage of CETA – with a planned roll-out across the region – is Ukerbarley. Ukerbarley is a property that until recently hasn’t been accessible to Aboriginal people or the broader community. Since the 1920s it has been a private property and is now in the care of National Parks and Wildlife Services, acting caretakers for the traditional owners of the land.

Lead artist Paris Norton – a Gamilaroi woman raised in Coonabarabran – has a reverence for the space. She says ‘The environment is really striking. It’s been untouched for so long. What’s there has always been – it’s uncleared and the animals are unafraid, undisturbed and full of curiosity. The energy of the place is really special.’

The property contains many Aboriginal sites, the meaning of which hasn’t yet been fully explored. Looking at how technology and arts could help a community – to access and map a space in different ways and connect it back to culture – is what inspired the project.

CETA is a chance to reclaim the space culturally. It has become the community’s property through the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which identifies Ukerbarley as an Aboriginal area and so ‘a project like this is an opportunity for community to take back the narrative,’ says Norton.

The community consultation process has revealed a wealth of ideas of how to map and share this narrative, with technological elements allowing an access to Ukerbarley not otherwise possible for some community Elders. These ideas will be developed through Lab 2, which will build on cultural and community engagement and present documentation to the community by the end of the year.


Mentorship in the Left Field Collective

Before the Faith exhibition opened, we asked artists Jason Wing and Paris Norton about being a mentor and emerging artist in the Left Field Collective. Their responses show just how far this project has come – and how the process of mentorship is not just a one-way street:

Jason Wing: I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the mentors from the beginning… that’s four years of development. There have been so many successes: regional gallery shows, finalists in art prizes, travel, it’s pretty amazing. I’m thrilled with the quality [of the Faith exhibition] and I challenge anyone to come in, not read the names and pick mentor and mentee… I don’t think they could do it and that’s a great success I feel.

Paris Norton: As an Aboriginal emerging artist as part of Left Field it’s been really a big honour for me to exhibit alongside the mentors and show the progress that we’ve made as a group… to the point where now I feel comfortable exhibiting alongside them. If you had asked me four years ago to do it I never would have.

Jason Wing: The boundary between mentor and mentee is more flat than that – we’re actually learning from each other and that’s actually just our way. Culturally that’s all we do, we share – everything we know we give for the collective benefit.

The Left Field Collective is currently exhibiting the Faith exhibition at Casula Powerhouse Art Centre, on until Sunday 19 November. 


EOI: Live Music Event Curator

Mid-Western Regional Council is calling for expressions of interest to engage a Curator on a contract basis to assist Council with programming and delivery of a live music event to be held in the Mudgee CBD in March 2018. The successful applicant will ideally have knowledge and experience in the live music scene in the Mid-Western Region and/or experience in curation in other fields.

Candidates are asked to submit a general statement regarding their knowledge and experience in the live music scene and/or curation experience (no more than 500 words) along with a CV (up to 2 pages). The fee structure and budget is dependant on skills and experience.

Applicants are encouraged to contact Events Coordinator, Alayna Gleeson on 6378 2850 or alayna.gleeson@midwestern.nsw.gov.au to discuss their expression of interest prior to submitting. Expression of interests close 30 November.

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CETA on the move

Paris Norton, lead artist on the CETA project, reflects on her recent visit to Goulburn, where she presented the possibilities of bringing arts, culture and technology together.

We were thrilled to receive an invitation from Southern Tablelands Arts to talk about our latest program, CETA – contemporary environment technology and arts – especially with a group of people who are inspired by the possibilities of what these tools can bring to the art world.

The road from Dubbo to Goulburn is one of many shapes and textures. From dense bushland to canola covered hills to rolling mountains that shelter the valleys from the cold winds of the south, it provides just the right recipe for reflection and creative thinking – which is what’s needed a few hours before a presentation, especially one fusing place, culture and technology arts.

A room full of people from the Southern Tablelands science hub network community – including the Mayor and new Goulburn Gallery manager – joined us for the evening. Our presentation explained our goals and vision for the CETA project and what that means to us, not only as Orana Arts but as community members.

When it came time to demonstrate the technology that we had brought along, it was then that you saw the full effect of what technology and art can do across generations. I was delighted to see a young boy interact with robots, seeing the potential in their abilities and putting them to the test, an elderly gentleman learning about a drone and watching his eyes tick over as he contemplated its uses. It was humbling to see the group as a whole with big smiles, as interesting and creative conversations filled the room.

I was honored to receive such warm and passionate feedback and couldn’t help my mind running off with the possibilities of what a program like CETA could do for their communities as I later drifted off to sleep.  

The next morning, we were scheduled to present CETA at a local high school; a practical and fun session with our various technologies.

Almost 40 children bustled into the room with curious faces so we wasted no time, jumping into practical play after a brief introduction. The children were broken into groups and robots were divided between them. They were to experiment with the robots and reflect on what their use could be. The energy in the room immediately went from 50% to 110% – with laughter, teamwork and excitement reverberating around the room and corridor outside.

The group had many exciting ideas for these robots; from turning them into futuristic cars that take tourists around town, to outer space and mini cave explorers. It was clear that technology has its place amongst this generation and that in the hands of these young people really anything was possible.

A positive creative session flows into positive social benefits. Children who usually found large group sessions confronting and unappealing were interacting with the technology with enthusiasm and confidence. The class came together to create a large-scale track made from their initial experimental drawings and students took turns in navigating the robots through this maze.

High excitement levels only increased with the next activity: it was time to fly the drone. The children were given a demonstration of how the drone worked and then as a group made shapes with their bodies that would be recorded from above.

By the end of this session we were left with a sense of hope for what these participants could grow to do with these technologies and how it could influence art, lifestyle and culture. This experience cemented the importance of CETA in our communities and inspired us for our journey ahead.

Thank you so much for the opportunity, Southern Tablelands Arts!

If you are interested in more information on the CETA program, or in arranging a talk or workshop for your area, please contact us via info@oranaarts.com

Orana Artist: Jayden Muir

Jayden Muir is an emerging artist currently based in Sydney, but with roots firmly in the Mudgee region. She is balancing her professional training with auditions and workshops whilst also writing and creating her own work. She has just finished the first season run of her own show (All Stations To Social Disconnection) as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. She is currently in rehearsal for a production to be performed this month as part of her graduating showcase. We caught up with Jayden between rehearsals to find out how her Fringe show went, what she learnt, and if she really does believe that other young regional creatives should apply for a Create NSW Young Regional Artist Scholarship (hint: YES).

Firstly, have you always had an interest in theatre? When did you start performing and creating your own shows? How did your play All Stations to Disconnection come about?

I really only started getting interested in acting and theatre when I was about 16. I decided to take up HSC drama when I was in high school as I was very interested in the design elements of theatre and originally had a passion for costume design. I very quickly fell in love with acting and performing though and funnily enough decided to choose acting as my drama major instead of design. I started getting involved with local community art groups and performing in shows.
In 2015 I decided to audition for acting school and was successful in gaining a place at Sydney Theatre School (STS). From here I started training full time in acting and along the way started gaining more and more skills and knowledge about the craft of performing and theatre making and soon started to understand the importance of making work and putting yourself out there in a very competitive industry! Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Scotland to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it was such an eye-opener seeing how many people are creating work and putting on shows.
Coming back from that I was inspired to create my own show and Fringe is such a great way to get your show on. All Stations to Social Disconnection came to me one day when I was on the train. I am a bit of a people watcher and I would notice how different people would interact on the train and how being compressed in such a small social setting made people automatically divert to technology as an escape. From here I started observing more and more what people did and eventually wrote All Stations To Social Disconnection.

All Stations to Social Disconnection recently had a successful run as part of the Sydney Fringe. Can you tell us about the experience of putting this show together; the challenges, the joys, the things you’ve learnt? 

It has been such an amazing and very challenging experience. Writing, producing and acting in a show whilst balancing my final year of acting school definitely came with a lot of sleepless nights and I can't lie and say there weren't times when it felt like it was all too much. However, the pay-off and excitement of it all was worth it. Early stages of creating this show started with finding amazing artists and theatre makers who were passionate about creating work and bringing this piece to life. I was blessed with an awesome cast and amazing director and we did a lot of script development to adjust to each specific actor and a lot of improvisation around the main ideas in the script in order to bring it to life. I learnt it's important to find other artists with the same passion as you, otherwise the work dies. I met so many amazing people during Fringe and have made some great contacts. I learnt how important networking is in this industry. I'm also so amazed by the amount of support that is out there for young artists like myself. 

With taking on multiple roles I also learnt to stay extremely organised! and quickly leant I have a slight coffee addiction. Caffeine played a big part in those days in which I would have to balance starting school at 8.30am then having to head straight to rehearsal after school at 6pm and then keep going until 9.30 at night. Those days were definitely the most taxing! In the end it was all worth it. Im so grateful for how many people came and saw this show. With close to a full house nearly every night I am more then ecstatic about the success of my first show.

As a recipient of Create NSW’s Young Regional Artist Scholarship you were able to take up a mentorship opportunity. How have you changed over this process? 

I can't even begin to say how grateful I am for this scholarship! I was able to get the best resources to create my own work, something which is just so important as an actor. It's opportunities like this that support young developing artists like myself. I was able to take up a mentorship with actor and writer Alan Flower. From day one Alan took me step by step through the process of creating my own work. From early meetings about script development all the way through to closing night, I was able to learn the ins and outs of creating work and getting it off the page. It was so great having a professional to guide me along a process which was quite daunting. I definitely feel that I have come a long way and am confident in being able to create more work. 

Would you recommend that other young regional creatives apply for the scholarship? 

Yes, yes and yes! I am so honoured to have received this scholarship. There are so many oppounities available with this funding. I decided to pursue creating my own work, which not only meant I was able to fund my work, but also mentored through the process as well as attend producer workshops. However, it can be used for nearly anything to help you boost your developing career. I am very proud to come from a regional area and I think it's important that we continue to support young artists from regional areas. While I live in Sydney at the moment for studies, the country will always be my home – plus I have some exciting plans on the horizon for my region which wouldn't be possible without with scholarship! Through this scholarship I will also be attending a two-day professional development program in Sydney where I will attend workshops and network with professionals in my field. I couldn't recommend applying for this scholarship enough!

And what advice would you give them about the seemingly daunting application process?

Leave yourself plenty of time to get it done! It took me months to finish my application. Taking it easy will help you manage and will make it seem less scary. It's a big task applying for a grant and it requires a lot of extra material and coordinating with other people. However, Create NSW were so supportive and were always happy to answer any questions I had. My number one advice would be to just really take it slow, don't rush the process at all and just go for it! If you feel confident and passionate about your art there's no reason why you shouldn't apply. It's not as scary as it seems once you get started.

What’s next for Jayden Muir – will we be seeing All Stations to Social Disconnection or another production in the Orana region soon? 

I am super excited to be running a workshop series in the Orana region this December. I will be graduating from my three year training at STS in November and then my focus will be on this tour. The money made through ticket sales from Fringe will go to funding workshops around the region. I'm so grateful for the arts in my region and I can't wait to come back. Workshops topics will include physical theatre, theatre-making and devising workshops, using excerpts from the All Stations script and also a Q+A on producing work for festivals such as Fringe. I'm very keen to pass on the knowledge I gained during this process to youth theatres in the area. There are lots of details to finalise before I head back but I will be sure to keep everyone updated!


HomeGround Deadline Extended

The closing date for the next round of HomeGround applications has been extended to 20 October. This program provides emerging regional artists with the opportunity to exhibit in a high profile exhibition space, to work with a professional curator to extend their practice and to benefit from mentoring sessions on a range of possible areas. Artists from Regional New South Wales are invited to submit a proposal that outlines their exhibition including ideas, concept or body of work and example images of work to support the proposal.

Successful applicants will work closely with the Western Plains Cultural Centre Curatorial team to realise their exhibition. Applications will be assessed in conjunction with the WPCC Exhibition Policy. HomeGround is limited to emerging artists from NSW only. An emerging artist is usually one in the first five years of their professional practice. A regional artist usually resides in an area with a Regional Arts Development Board. The assessment panel will be the final judges of these criteria.

Read the information package at WPCC

In the Studio with Chester Nealie

Recently the Orana Arts team had the privilege of visiting potter Chester Nealie at his home and Administration Officer Paris Norton shares her experience: 

As an artist and a new member of the Orana Arts team, this was my first experience of visiting the residence and workshop of an established artist. Winding up the drive, I was transported back in time. Surrounded by nothing but spectacular bush, with water-soaked earth under foot and only the sound of birds above. Even then I knew that this visit was going to be great.

Welcoming us into their home were the artist and his wife, alongside some wallabies and parrots who were watching curiously by the doorstep. Chester and Jan immediately inspired me; the wealth of knowledge they possess surrounding their own practice and their passion for all cultural artistic practices is impressive. I was immersed in collections of artefacts and artworks, all with an amazing story.

Over the next hour or so I would learn of Chester’s adventures and what inspires him. I learnt that when in China I must go to the street markets and look on the ground. It’s there that I will find the most extraordinary fragments of ceramics.  We bonded over a mutual interest in Maori culture and design, with Chester filling in blanks that I had been hoping to fill for some time. I was able to touch with my hands artefacts that were hundreds of years old whilst discussing Chester’s practice. His works have a raw beauty to them that I can see reflects the landscape he inhabits and the places he has been. What an honour it was to sit and sip tea with such a fantastic artist.

I pulled myself away from the treasures that line every windowsill and wall so that we could experience the workshop. Scattered pots, cups and teapots line the grassed slopes of his yard. ‘It’s better to leave them there than on a table’ he said. ‘The wombats just knock over everything otherwise.’ I had a quiet chuckle to myself, thinking of the trials and tribulations for a country artist verses a city one. Next we checked out Chester’s kiln and then a shack made of gorgeous orange-rusted pressed tin of all different patterns and textures. It is here that he keeps his pots both finished and mid-process. To my delight I spied more found objects lining the windowsills.

After a lovely morning I left the property hoping that this would not be my last visit. As an artist, it was refreshing to meet someone who has created such a harmonious life with his art. Everything worked as one; he is never far from what inspires, his practice just off the back steps. It was a captivating experience that confirmed why I create art and why I want to pursue a career supporting artists.

In 2017 I will be off to China with my family. While I am there I will be visiting the street markets just as Chester advised and when my partner asks me why I’m searching the floors I will respond with ‘I’m doing a Chester Nealie’.

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At the Exhibition: Dhuuluu – Yala (talk straight)

The Orana Arts team attended the opening of Aleshia Lonsdale’s 2016 HomeGround exhibition at the Western Plains Cultural Centre and Paris Norton shares her response:

A softly spoken woman – family in tow – stands outside the doors of the gallery at the Western Plains Cultural Centre.  Adjusting her glasses, she stands there quietly, avoiding the fuss and attention of the crowd that grows in anticipation of the new HomeGround exhibition. Many don’t know, but she is the main event, the mastermind behind an incredible collection. She is Aleshia Lonsdale.

As you enter the gallery space you approach a wall with a quote just slightly above eye level. Immediately you feel dominated. It’s a quote about the removal of children with comparison to the stolen generation. We learn from this that we are battling in today’s society a far bigger problem than we might assume. Taken aback by the quote you move along a narrow walk way. The wall blocks sight of the other artworks making you feel like one of many sardines in the can as you squeeze your way through the crowd. Behind opens up a rabbit warren of walls and artworks. Where do I look first? You can’t help but see that this style of entrance was curated to set the emotion and complexity of the topic.

The artworks speak of complex conditions and realities of Aboriginal communities and the forced removal of children from their families. Works that hit you in the places that make your belly turn as you think of your own child and the life you so desperately fight for them to have. It makes you hold them that little bit tighter and watch as they are fascinated by the red and yellow petals that flow against the wall and onto to the ground. My son is taken simply by the pretty colours, completely unaware that his imagination plays with representations of fallen children.

A clothesline of baby clothes displays the inner pain and thoughts of those affected by this system hang beside you, protest signs in sand line walls, the tears that the deaf hears do not seem to hear fall from the celling.

The bravery of Aleshia’s voice is astounding. Her works are done so simply and so well yet her voice speaks for thousands of stories and most importantly her own. She talks straight to you. No fuss. I feel extremely privileged to have my name alongside this artist in the Orana Arts Left Field Project and I can’t help but feel a little giddy as I wander around the works, completing my fourth loop before I give in to my child and take him home.

Aleshia’s work hooks you like a honey trap. They are beautifully put together with a quality to them that draws you in and urges you to look closer. It’s then that you realise the important and not-so-pretty messages they hold. Her work creates conversations that need to be started. I hope her work inspires others to question those ‘well-intentioned policies’ and reflect on our own views.

Her work is a blinding bright light for the future of Aboriginal contemporary art and I am eagerly ready to walk in her footsteps.

Orana Region Writing

There are a variety of groups around the region for budding writers to share their work and hone their craft. Here are a few opportunities for literary connection:

Coona Writers
A newly formed writers group to help, encourage and share writing. Meets at the Coonabarabran Library. Get in touch via the CoonaWriters Facebook Group.

Cudgegong Valley Writers
CVW meet in Room 2 of Club Mudgee on the second Friday of each month,
12–3pm. Anyone with an interest in writing is welcome to attend. They hold competitions and workshops, monthly themed readings and writing trigger games. Contact Jill Baggett for more information.

The Orana Writers’ Hub
Run by the Outback Writers’ Centre, the Orana Writers meet regularly in Dubbo. Contact Val Clark or visit the Outback Writers’ Centre for more information.

Point Blank Writers
Run through the Gilgandra Shire Library, this group meets once a month and have a different workshop on writing each meeting. All welcome – to join contact Gilgandra Shire Library on 6817 8877 or via email.

Orana Artist: Denise Faulkner

Meet Gulgong’s Denise Faulkner!

Tell us about your artistic practice:
I am watercolour painter who focuses on painting the local wildlife, especially the local birds, and our relationship with them. This often means placing my birds in situations which we as humans find comforting and normal, but are completely unfamiliar to them, as wild creatures. Through my paintings I endeavour to say something about the personality or behaviours of our avian friends, whilst adding a touch of whimsy, because who doesn’t need a touch of whimsy these days?

Proudest professional/creative moment?
Every time someone buys one of my paintings. I am always surprised and humbled that someone is willing to pay for one of my artworks and put it up on their wall and want to live with it every day. Also receiving a phone call from the director of Michael Reid’s gallery at Murrurundi asking whether I would like to put some of my paintings in their stockroom was a pretty exciting moment as well!

What inspires your work?
Having moved from the stress and chaos of the city, it took the move to the country to give me the inspiration and the time I was lacking. Where the only birds in the city were the noisy and aggressive ones, moving to a bush block outside of Mudgee I was surprised by the breadth and variety of birds which visited our bird baths, especially the small birds who would descend upon our bird baths in mixed flocks. At first I would just photograph them as they flit by in an attempt to identify them, from there it seemed natural to paint them. Over time I got to know the personalities of our regular visitors, so I started painting them in situations which would give a key to their personalities and habits.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew starting out?
Not to be afraid to be an artist. Twenty years ago I completed a Degree in Fine Arts through the National Art School in Darlinghurst and went straight from that to full time work. It took moving out here, having the peace and the time (and a fellow artist neighbour Merilyn Burch Carney putting my name on a group show poster), to actually make me pick up a paint brush again and start painting.

For more, follow Denise on Instagram and visit her website.